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It is personal preference on how long to wait but there are very few reasons to delay.
Actually meeting the person you are talking to is one of the most important steps to online dating.
That sounds amusing but many online daters dwell on internet communication overly long. They wanted me to get the show on the road and they were right to feel that way.
This reason is acceptable, especially considering the hassle that some women end up going through when dating online.
In general, my rule is an invitation to meet should come by the third email you send.
I found that people will not be offended if you suggest a first date before they are ready.
In my experience, the other person would offer an excuse but continue communicating.
I never went for phone conversations as a stepping stone from internet communication to meeting.
I tried phone conversations early on but had a few bad experiences with “excessive calling” and one case where a girl took it as a personal offense every time I had to get off the phone.
One common reason to delay a first date is due to an attempt to learn more about the other person. I found the first few minutes of the first date are worth more than dozens of emails.
Another reason to delay would be if the person you are communicating with has expressed extreme reservations about meeting people from the internet.
By this point you have talked back and forth twice and can measure how well you are getting along.